Why Gothenburg is Your Next Scandinavian Destination
It’s hard to deny my love for Scandinavian culture as an Angeleno who swears by his leather jackets and lives for a freshly-sliced avocado toast. How else can we possibly top this?
Well, my dream of finally becoming a local Scandinavian came true less than two weeks ago when I was headed to the Western shores of Sweden. Gothenburg, to be exact, Sweden’s second largest and most metropolitan city. Much like California, the western coast of Sweden is home to exquisite art, architecture and archipelagos. It is also home to around 300,000-400,000 elks within the country’s well-preserved wildlife and forests as well as 7 Michelin star restaurants. Just a few of my favorite things.
For almost a week and a half, Azusa (my photographer + dear friend) and I got to experience the very best of what Gothenburg has to offer. Consider this your primer into the ways of living like a Swede and why Gothenburg should be your next Scandinavian destination.
1. Gothenburg takes its food seriously.
It’s a universal truth that Scandinavian cuisine and meals are superb. I usually plan my life around food and Gothenburg takes that habitual addiction to the next level. Take, for instance, your breakfast at a hotel. This isn’t your ordinary continental breakfast; Scandinavians have no tolerance for stale muffins and soggy, clumped up eggs. Every meal of the day is prepared meticulously and seasonally. There are no shortcuts here. In fact, our breakfasts everyday at the Upper House Hotel looked more like a Michelin-star dinner than anything else. And the best part? It’s included in your hotel stay!
TOSO | Address: Götaplatsen, 412 56 Göteborg, Sweden | Hours: 5PM–1AM
2. Gothenburg is very pedestrian and transportation-friendly.
The entire city is within the palm of the hands, literally, with the purchase of a City Card! This card gives you unlimited access to trams/buses within the city, as well as admission into particular museums and discounts at a wide-range of Gothenburg based retailers. Frequent stops make this city so easy to navigate, especially for those traveling to Sweden for the first time. We really miss our daily tram rides now that we’re back in all the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Navigating the city by bikes is also another tremendously popular option, as it increases your mobility without having to wait for a tram or bus.
3. Gothenburg is home to some of the best department stores, like Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), and homegrown, Swedish designer labels.
What does Nudie Jeans, Acne Studios, Filippa K, and Agonist Parfums all have in common? They’re all Swedish brands. Suffice to say, there’s no shortage of high-end shopping in Gothenburg, as it is home to the aforementioned brands and renowned shopping districts: Magasingatan and Haga. Not interested in hitting up department stores or mainstream boutiques. Consider a more curated and cozy experience found at Style by Mouche!
Address: Magasinsgatan 19, 411 18 Göteborg, Sweden
Style by mouche
Address: Götabergsgatan 2, 411 34 Göteborg, Sweden
Hours: 4–7PM (SOMETIMES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY)
Address: Vallgatan 15, 411 16 Göteborg, Sweden
Velour by Nostalgi
Address: Magasinsgatan 19, 411 18 Göteborg, Sweden
Haga District | Market 29 | Address: Haga Nygata 29, 413 01 Göteborg, Sweden | Hours: 11AM–6PM
(SCROLL THE RIGHT FOR A MINI TOUR)
4. Gothenburg’s hospitality scene is second to none.
From the whimsical to the ultra-luxe, there’s something different for any traveler. I personally preferred the luxurious accommodations of the Upper House within Gothia Towers, simply because of its spectacular pool, spa and restaurant. The amenities are all there to cater to even the most fastidious traveler. However, after a three-night stay at the Hotel Pigalle, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the quirkiness of that hotel as well. Their gin and tonics are no joke; so sublimely refreshing and light all at the same time. Both hotels house extraordinary restaurants serving seasonal and local Scandinavian fare — chanterelle mushrooms and wild boar galore. You simply can’t go wrong with both!
Address: Gothia Towers, Mässans gata 24, 402 26 Göteborg, Sweden
Address: Södra Hamngatan 2a, 411 06 Göteborg, Sweden
5. Gothenburg is Fika capital.
For those in the know, Fika essentially revolves around a coffee break meets social gathering. It’s a moment of intimacy with whomever you’re with. A temporary escape from the daily grind, if you will. And with such an unadulterated respect and commitment to quality, you best bet the coffee is amazing cup after cup.
Address: Tredje Långgatan 9, 413 03 Göteborg, Sweden
6. Gothenburg is known for its unique art scene as well as having the world’s first, artificially -built rainforest.
The latter of which is located in the Universeum. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, as Gothenburg is so far away from any tropical rainforest. I couldn’t be more wrong as I descended into the rainforest and immediately got a sense of how humid it was. The humidity felt so real and was seeping it’s way into my clothes. But that made the experience even more memorable and fun, especially as an adult. It brought back a lot of nostalgia, like being on one of my elementary school field trips. Worth every second and drop of sweat!
7. Gothenburg is a welcoming city for all.
In an age where there is so much hate and tragedy happening around the world, Gothenburg and almost all of Sweden maintains a very politically-neutral environment that is accepting of all people from all walks of life. Sure, like anywhere in the world, it’s not perfect, but it gets it right in almost every aspect living sustainably and equally. Where in the world could you comfortably leave your bike unlocked, your baby stroller unattended and feel safe walking/wandering around at night? As a triple minority, I felt incredibly safe being out and about. Everyone looks out for each other here. The amount of reverence towards social and economic equality is palpable and quite honestly, enviable. Access to public resources, even as a traveler, is unparalleled here.